Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

In His Own Words: Stephen Gyllenhaal (Dad to Maggie and Jake) Shares a Scene From 'Grassroots' Starring Jason Biggs

By Stephen Gyllenhaal | Indiewire July 16, 2012 at 9:09AM

Below director Stephen Gyllenhaal (yes, father to Maggie and Jake) shares a scene from his political comedy "Grassroots," starring Jason Biggs, Joel David Moore, Lauren Ambrose, Cobie Smulders and Tom Arnold. Based off the book "Zioncheck for President" by Phil Campbel, "Grassroots" tells the true story of one candidate’s (Moore) unforeseen run for a seat on the 2001 Seattle City Council Campaign against the incumbent nominee, Richard McIver (Cedric the Entertainer). The film is currently playing in select theaters.
0
Grassroots

Below director Stephen Gyllenhaal (yes, father to Maggie and Jake) shares a scene from his political comedy "Grassroots," starring Jason Biggs, Joel David Moore, Lauren Ambrose, Cobie Smulders and Tom Arnold. Based off the book "Zioncheck for President" by Phil Campbel, "Grassroots" tells the true story of one candidate’s (Moore) unforeseen run for a seat on the 2001 Seattle City Council Campaign against the incumbent nominee, Richard McIver (Cedric the Entertainer). The film is currently playing in select theaters.

________________________________

I’ve often described “Grassroots” as a comedy about two slacker dudes who jump into a local election. Everything about their campaign is wrong. The more bombastic of the two, Grant Cogswell, is the candidate, obsessed with unseating Richard McIver, the only African American member of Seattle’s City Council. His friend, Phil Campbell, is bitter that he’s been fired from an alt weekly paper and just wants to get even with the world by making a mess.

I’ve liked thinking of it as a comedy. But all along it was the dramatic issues in the piece that pulled me forward. There were basically two issues – the fact that the dudes were forced to grow up as the campaign got serious and the issue of racism in the movie. I tried to keep this second issue relatively under the surface. My hope was that there would be an increasingly uncomfortable feeling in the audience as the film careened forward.  

I knew that there was a really wonderful resolution, so I knew I could push the issue a bit. This is based on a true story and the ending sat in the truth of what the two real people did. But I did need to strengthen that truth where I could. The issue of the handshake came to Justin Rhodes (the other writer) and I basically in stages.

The Scene


There are three handshake moments in the movie. The final one being the scene that appears here. The middle handshake moment was completely made up. As was this one that you see, but it pointed to a deeper truth and it helped with the arc of the characters. It’s been interesting knowing the real people so well. All three of them know that what happens in the movie isn’t exactly what happened in real life (except for the moment at the end, which I’m not going to give away here). But all three of the real people now feel that the movie captures what happened in a deeper sense.

Shooting the scene was pretty straight-forward. We didn’t have much time that day and there was construction outside (if you listen you can hear some of it). We tried our best to shoot around jackhammers, but that wasn’t always possible.

There was a point when I had met with a cinematographer (not Sean Porter, who ended up doing the movie). Ironically, it was this other cinematographer who had made the importance of the three handshakes so clear to me. In the job interview he had talked about shooting the handshake with a great amount of detail, maybe even slow motion and lots of close ups.

At the time I’d liked the idea, but in the end (visually) I threw it away and kept the images simple, shooting just a few angles, not overselling it. If I had had more time I might have done those shots as well, but in the end the actors sold it much better than some fancy shots and all of that work would probably have ended up on the “cutting room floor” if I’d shot them.

Lastly, the scene didn’t totally work until we found a piece of temp music, which gave it just the right mix of irony and emotion. When Nick Urata came in to do the actual music for the movie it took us five or six tries before we got it right.

In any case, this scene plays a pivotal role in the movie, bringing us to what I think is a kind of bittersweet (more sweet than bitter) ending.
 

This article is related to: Grassroots , Video: In Their Own Words, First Person






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More